H/B/F 2017: Leiden Half Marathon

I ran the Leiden half marathon!

(Be sure to give Leiden a read; I had no idea that the Pilgrims actually came from here–after fleeing England–before sailing for what is now America on the Mayflower. Certainly explains New Amsterdam, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.)

Before our trip materialized, I’d signed up for the Buffalo half marathon, a race I’ve been wanting to run for awhile but we always seem to be out of town. (To see what we were up to the last two years, click here and here.)

Once I found out I’d be out of town, I quickly transferred my registration to another runner friend (thanks, Jim!) and started looking for races here in the Netherlands during our visit. I was in luck! There were not one but two race events close to Haarlem, one in Leiden and one in Hoorn.

While both cities would have made great sightseeing days, I opted for the one in Leiden as its closer (20 minutes by train) and I was able to register online. (We plan to see Hoorn this weekend before we leave Holland.)

After a failed attempt to pick up my race packet the night before (turns out most runners here must opt for morning-of pick-up as most were still there in the a.m. and there really isn’t a large expo like in the States), Andrew and I hit up St. Peter’s Kerk to grab my goodies and bib.

We had some time, so we did a little walking around.  Full disclosure: I was super anxious and finally let Andrew go to do his own sightseeing when I needed to line up in my corral.  Even more full disclosure:  I was way more anxious about this than I needed/wanted to be.  I’ve already absolved Andrew of all responsibility to me in future overseas race endeavors; hopefully I’ll discover an inner coolness that’s never before existed and be able to refrain from stressing about events such as these.  In the meantime, I’ll still keep checking to see if there are races near our European vacation locales, and hopefully Andrew will forgive me of all my unnecessary anxiety.

Here I am!  I finished in 1:46, which is only one minute slower than my previous PR from six years ago (which was in a downhill race and probably 15 pounds lighter).  Just sayin.’

Afterward, we nabbed a spot at a cafe near the finish for lunch.  I loved being part of the action even after I finished.

After lunch, Andrew and I finished the Rick walk he’d started, which included this STEEP climb up to a man-made hilltop ‘bunker’ used for protection way back when. Beautiful views, tight hamstrings.

And because I hadn’t gotten enough steps already, we hiked over to (and UP) the windmill museum.  (Don’t get me wrong; it’s most of the reason I chose to run in Leiden–so my engineer husband could check it out.)

Once we said goodbye to the windmill museum, we headed back toward the train station…but not before we experienced a truly unique experience: crossing the running route en mass facilitated by race volunteers.  I’ve never seen a method such as this before: in order to cross the route, a group of us were hoarded into a small corral, and then the runners were diverted (using metal gates) around us so that we could be let out on the far side (toward our destination).  Then, it was reversed and the runners were diverted to the other side to allow the corral to be opened to the side from which we just came. Genius!  Does anyone know if this happens in the States?

H/B/F 2017: my gym away from my gym

I mentioned in this post that I joined a gym as soon as we got here. I knew I’d have two weeks (really only about 7 or 8 days) to workout while Andrew was working.

On our way into town, we passed this place and I figured because of its proximity to our hotel, it would be the winner. I’d done some recon before we left and seen another gym close by, but now that I’ve walked the town, I’m glad I came across this one!

It didn’t even occur to me until I was walking into my first group exercise class that the language barrier might be problematic. While just about everyone here speaks English, their primary language is Dutch, and so the classes are led in Dutch. Again, this wouldn’t be an issue if I simply wanted to run on the treadmill and lift weights.

Thankfully, I made friends quickly and others around me made sure I knew how many reps or for how long we were supppsed to do something.  I’m even planning to meet up with one of the girls I met in boot camp for lunch next week!
Today, I chose to give a spinning class a try. While I teach cycle at home, I’ve noticed true ‘spinning’ classes tend to be a bit more intense. I tend to do one ‘thing’ (sprints, climb, or run) for the duration of a song, while in spinning the songs tend to be longer (more techno than what’s on the radio) and you might incorporate more endurance or intensity for longer segments of the song. Anyway. All that to say, don’t mind my hot and sweaty face!

The gym is actually quite extensive; there is a pool, childcare, a cafe (of course), a weight room with machines, a crossfit room (below) and various studios for yoga, biking, etc.

I went three times this week and plan to go at least that many times next week, which would make my 30 euro ‘membership fee’ be less than that many drop-in visits to my Y at home. Totally worth it.

I’m having a blast working out each morning! I love to work out, I feel better when I do, and it sure helps with all the ‘vacation eating’ going on. It’s also a neat way to ‘assimilate’ to your new home while abroad.

#bestrunninggroupever

Last week, the East Aurora Runners celebrated the end of our first ‘Winter Warrior Challenge,’ a 16-week contest to see who could attend the most runs, no matter the weather.  Pictured below are our winners, two couples who are die-hard runners.

(All photos courtesy of Stacy Grinsfelder)

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Sarah, far left, is pregnant and got this cute onesie in her gift bag!

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I came in second, with another runner, as I missed ONE RUN due to my varicose vein removal in December.  I think I should have gotten a pass for that one, but whatev 🙂  There’s always next year!

I’ve been running with the group since sometime in 2013 and even wrote an article on us that was published in the East Aurora Advertiser in February of 2014. Debbie, pictured below left, started the group in December of 2012.  I missed about half of last year due to a bulging disc, but have been going strong since July.

The photo below is of some of the earliest runners in our original shirts. Since then, we’ve gotten t-shirts from 42 North (gifted to each runner after 10 runs) and neon jackets to promote visibility on our evening runs.

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This group has grown from just a few women meeting in a parking lot to 20+ runners each Thursday night.  (I credit much of that to ‘upgrading’ our meet-up location at 42 North…)  I’ve gotten to know some of the runners fairly well and we meet up for additional weekend runs and even movies (!!).  What was once for me (albeit for a short time) an ‘optional’ workout is now a singed-in-ink weekly date on my calendar.  We’ve run in rain (in fact, the night of our party was the wettest run in a long time), snow and heat, but it’s not even about the weather.  It’s about the company of others who are like-minded and genuinely interested in building relationships.

If you’re local and a runner, come out and meet us each Thursday night at 6 p.m. at 42 North–I promise you’ll have a group of friends almost instantly!